The Navy held three public hearings last week about its plan to build a Second Explosives Handling Wharf at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor, home of the mighty Trident nuclear submarine fleet. A fair number of people attended the Seattle hearing on Thursday.
In one room were many impressive visual displays about everything from the purpose and need of the project, alternatives, potential effects on the environment and mitigation measures. There were experts present to answer our questions and allay our fears. It is, however, all about eel grass and elephant seals; there's nary a mention of NUCLEAR WEAPONS.
I heard people asking some very pertinent and often difficult questions; among them, "Why do we even need an additional explosives handling wharf?" It always came down to the need to support Trident's strategic mission along with the concern that the existing wharf doesn't provide enough "operational days to support the Trident mission for the foreseeable future."
The Navy will not provide any documentation about why it requires "400 operational days per year," which is troubling when one considers that based on treaty obligations and movement towards disarmament the Navy is operating the Trident subs with fewer warheads per missile (down to 4 from 8) and should be reducing the number of missiles deployed per submarine in the near future.
Additionally, once the Trident D-5 missiles are outfitted with the new and improved W76-1 nuclear warheads (that's right folks; these are essentially brand new warheads based on the replacement of parts coupled with the addition of some newer, improved parts), I would expect little need for further change-out of warheads due to the lifespan of those newer warheads.
During the second part of the Thursday program the people were given the opporunity to comment on the Navy's plan. Many people approached the microphone, and each and every person said an emphatic "NO" to the plan for a Second Explosives Handling Wharf. All spoke intelligently and passionately.
The only option, from the standpoint of the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS), should be the No Action alternative, meaning the Navy would not build the wharf.
At a time when our nation can not afford another military construction project that will most likely cost close to a billion dollars when the muddy waters settle, and more importantly needs to set the example to lead the world to nuclear disarmament, another project that clearly indicates the government's continued reliance on a Cold War strategy of "deterrence" will only serve to continue to destabilize and counteract non-proliferation efforts. The result will be the continued build-up of nuclear arsenals around the world, and the eventual use of nuclear weapons with catastophic global effects.
Don't forget to make YOUR comments on the proposed Second Explosives Handling Wharf before the May 2nd deadline. Click here to go to the Navy's EIS Website where you can enter your comments online (click on "Comment").
Thanks and Peace,